Cold snap tests metro area homeless shelters

Print
Email
|

wwltv.com

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 11 at 11:21 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Homeless shelters across metro New Orleans are seeing a spike in people trying to escape the cold snap.

Shelter officials say those numbers are on the rise after the city of New Orleans cleared out the homeless population camped out under the Pontchartrain Expressway.

"We try to fill every bed as possible. We have some exceptions but we can add extra cots, we can do that as well and get everybody that we can inside the building," said John Lonardo with the New Orleans Mission.

On Tuesday night, baked chicken and dirty rice was on the menu at the New Orleans Mission as some of the city's homeless waited anxiously to get inside and out of the cold.

Lonardo said when temperatures drop, the facility sees a 20 percent jump in clients. Most nights the shelter is packed.

"You have disciples that live here, you have volunteers that come in, 220 to 300 people come in daily through the Mission," said Lonardo.

Just up the street at Ozanam Inn, extra cots hit the ground as the shelter braced for yet another busy night.

"Tonight because there is a second night of cold weather and they can't stay underneath the expressway anymore, we're anticipating another 36 or 38 guys. We're going to get them in as soon as we can," said Ozanam Inn Executive Director Biaggio Digiovanni.

Digiovanni said that on Monday night a handful of people had to be turned away because there just wasn't enough space. The shelter's resources are also being tested now that the homeless encampment underneath the interstate is gone.

"It started out somewhat slower where we were sleeping an additional four or five guys a night. Little by little, its built up, prior to last night we were sleeping 12 to 14 additional men at night," said Digiovanni

The city of New Orleans won't officially activate its freeze plan unless the temperature falls below 35 degrees.

In the meantime, local shelters could use your help. Give them a call directly if you'd like to volunteer or give a donation.

 

Print
Email
|